I had the oppurtunity to speak with two-time NBA Finals Champion Kenny Smith at a recent promotional event in New York for Majesco Entertainment's upcoming Kinect title, NBA Baller Beats. He was kind enough to share his thoughts on the game, which he has been fervently promoting, as well as other basketball related topics including interesting facets about his time in the league and his reaction to Miami Heats' recent victory in the NBA Finals.
A cordial and fired up Kenny Smith introduces NBA Baller Beats to press at an event in NYC.
Xavier Griffiths: How did you come to be involved with NBA Baller Beats?
Kenny Smith: I caught it at the development stage. They showed me the game and it was something that I used to use in my lectures. I used to use music and dribble to the beat to get kid’s attention. When I saw the game I was like 'it’s the first of its kind, revolutionary, to have a real ball, real beats, and you are actually doing real moves'. Only time I have ever seen that in any game. I watched the bowling and tennis games with Wii where you’re not using a real bowling ball or a real racket. This is the only game where you can transfer that experience and become a better player out of it.
Xavier Griffiths: So what role did you actually play in the development of the game?
Kenny Smith: Well right now the biggest part of it is I’m a resource. A resource of knowledge of what I think kids would want to do because I used to be this kid. Then there is the whole grassroots tour to this event today. I’m part of everything.
Xavier Griffiths: You also provide the voice for the in-game tutorial right?
Kenny Smith: Yes, I do.
Xavier Griffiths: What do you like about basketball videogames in general and what aspects of that are in this game?
Kenny Smith: I think the thing about videogames is I like interactive games. They take you away from being a couch potato and sitting and watching television, rather they make you a part of something as you’re doing it. So I’ve always favored interactive games. When I was even younger you know the football game with the wheel? [Note: most likely referring to 1978’s Atari Football that was both the first arcade game of football and the first game to replace the joystick with a trac-ball for movement.] I would play that before something that required using my thumbs. So I was always an interactive person.
Xavier Griffiths: So do you like the game? You were really getting into it. You made it look easy.
Kenny Smith: This is real sweat man. Nobody came and sprayed me with water. I enjoy the game. I really think that it’s a tutorial but more importantly it’s fun.
Xavier Griffiths: So do you think it will help people with handling skills and dribbling?
Kenny Smith: For sure. I think it’s like Dance Dance Revolution; you don’t have to be a great dancer, but you could still have fun. Same with this. You don’t have to be a great basketball player.
Xavier Griffiths: So what other videogames do you like other than sports games? Past or present.
Kenny Smith: Past? From Pac-man to Donkey Kong, all the early great games to Call of Duty to this.
Xavier Griffiths: Okay, we’re past the videogame questions. On to the basketball questions. I don’t even know where to begin. What do you think of the Miami Heat and their victory? I’m still reeling from it. It was not my favorite moment in basketball but you know they did their thing. What do you think about them going forward?
Kenny Smith: Well, we knew that they were going to be like this and in five years contenders. We just didn’t like the way they were going about getting there. But this was something that I expected and I think over the next five to six years they are going to part of it.
Xavier Griffiths: What do you think about Jeremy Lin going from New York to your former team, the Houston Rockets?
Kenny Smith: I was surprised. I was surprised that the Knicks didn’t sign him. He was a guy that did a great job for them, he revitalized the city. I’m just saying the guy for 25 games made you relevant and then you get rid of him and you weren’t relevant before or after him so we’ll see if they’re able to get by.
Xavier Griffiths: We’re in New York right now. We have the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks now. How do you think that’s going to play out in New York over the next season?
Kenny Smith: It’s kind of like the Mets and Yankees.
Xavier Griffiths: Who’s who?
Kenny Smith: The Knicks are the Yankees right now in terms of franchise. Not in terms of talent, but in terms of franchise.
In the '95 NBA Finals Kenny Smith hits a record seven three-pointers to help the Rockets win.
Xavier Griffiths: How did it feel hitting seven three’s in the 1995 NBA finals, a record that still stands today?
Kenny Smith: You know what the funny thing is? When you’re in the moment you don’t realize it until afterwards and you’re watching it on "Sports Center" or you're watching in on TNT. You go “Wow! I did that.” So it’s more of an after effect that made it great.
Xavier Griffiths: What’s Charles Barkley like in person?
Kenny Smith: What you see is what you get. He doesn’t change because the camera is on. He is a lot of fun.
Xavier Griffiths: Alright, one last request. Can you please say “It’s over ladies and gentlemen”?
Kenny Smith: [Laughs] I don’t know if I can say it with the same energy. “It’s over ladies and gentlemen! It’s over!”
[It’s much more impressive in person, trust me.]
You can read my summary of the full event along with a hands-on preview with NBA Baller Beats here.